Nets general manager Billy King addressed the media at the team’s practice facility on Wednesday morning, and made it very clear that his primary goal heading into this offseason is to bring back Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.
King said that the Nets want to re-sign Lopez and Young, both of whom have player options this summer. He sees them as two keys to build around for the future. He added that both have made it known to the team that they're interested in returning.
"I do know they both want to be here and we want them here," King said.
Lopez, who has struggled with foot injuries over the past few seasons, was quoted last week as saying "You know, I don’t know," when asked about returning.
King sang the center’s praises, though, calling him "our best player" during the late-season playoff push.
"He’s a guy that carried us," King said. "Without Brook Lopez, there’s no way we get to where we got to this year. …Teams are double-teaming him, they’re game-planning how to stop him. And so, to me, when you have a guy who could average 20 [points] and rebound the basketball to get a double-double, there’s not a lot of guys in the league that can do that."
The GM reiterated that there is an understanding throughout the organization about Lopez’s future in Brooklyn.
"[Head coach Lionel Hollins] said it, we’ve said it, Brook said it," King insisted. "… I’ll say it again—we want him back."
He had praise for Young, who he drafted when he was GM in Philly and traded for at the deadline this year.
King refused to address rumors about a possible contract extension for himself as he heads into the final year of his deal with Brooklyn. He also declined comment on the fate of Bobby Marks, his assistant GM who did not attend the press conference.
He was more open about the future of point guard Deron Williams, however.
"Everyone talks about the Big Three—Deron, Joe [Johnson] and Brook—and who’s going to be back. We’re going to explore all options. Will there be a trade? There could be."
King also added that "we explored trading everybody (during the 2014-15 regular season)."
There have been rumblings of a possible buyout between the Nets and their overpaid point guard, who is due over $40 million in the next two seasons. Hollins recently said that Williams, who was once viewed as the league’s top floor general, is no longer a "franchise player." Here’s the full quote from ESPN New York’s Mike Mazzeo:
He’s not a franchise player anymore. He’s a good player, he’s a solid player, but I don’t think he’s a franchise player anymore. That’s just my opinion. He’s a good player. I’m proud of the way he’s bounced back and played, and there’s so much pressure on him to be a franchise player, and everybody talks about a franchise player, but we need to have a franchise team.
While not as direct, King seemed to agree with Hollins’ assessment.
That’s what Lionel tried to talk about all year—‘Let’s not focus so much on…whether it’s Deron, or it’s Brook…let’s focus on the team. I look at San Antonio, and they have [Tim] Duncan, [Tony] Parker and [Manu] Ginobili, but then they have Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard. It’s a team. So you don’t know who, on different nights, is going to do it. …
If we can get to that point here, where it’s not about Deron Williams, or Joe Johnson or Brook Lopez…where it becomes about the Brooklyn Nets figuring out how to win—as a group—then you have a team that’s successful.
Are the days of big names over in Brooklyn? Could this team really walk the same path as the San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls, teams King mentioned as models?
King believes it starts with "internal development," a term he used many times in many ways on Wednesday. The GM made a point of referencing the development of Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll, drawing a parallel to young Nets like Markel Brown, Mason Plumlee, Corey Jefferson and Bojan Bogdanovic.
One of the highlights of the season, he said, was "that some of these young guys got a taste of the playoffs."Currently limited in terms of what his team can do in the draft and on the free agent market, King kept returning to the concept of growing from within and continuity.
King also said the Nets intend to give Mirza Teletovic a $4.21 million qualifying offer before June 30, making him a restricted free agent. He can either accept the offer and play one more year in Brooklyn or seek other offers. The Nets can match any offer he receives. Asked about Teletovic's chances of returning, King replied, "No disrespect to Mirza, my main focus right now is Brook and Thaddeus because they’re two key pieces for us."
"Lionel and I met for five hours on Monday," King noted. "We discussed pieces that we need to add and areas we need to get stronger at…We’ve got to start [internally], build from within, add pieces that complement [each other] and continue to grow."
"We can’t keep turning over the roster every year thinking that we’re going to find [answers] outside," King added. On Plumlee, he said the back-up center's less than stellar year, particularly after the All-Star Break is no reason to give up on him. King said Plumlee, going into his third year, has committed to playing some games in the summer league. The Nets will play in Orlando and Las Vegas.
King seemed to be saying the Nets have a strong desire to change their culture, but the hole they’ve dug themselves into is very steep.
- King Says Signing Lopez and Young Are the Nets' Top Priorities (Video) - Lenn Robbins - Brooklyn Nets
Billy King Press Conference (Video) - Brooklyn Nets
- Nets: Keeping Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young a priority - Andy Vasquez - The Record
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- Nets GM hopes to keep Brook Lopez, trade rest of Big 3 - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King says Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young are team's top offseason priorities - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- GM King, Nets have work cut out for them - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Nets GM: Brook Lopez wanted back, other Big 3 are trade chips - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Your one-stop guide to the Nets’ tricky offseason - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets' top priority: Re-signing Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Imitating the Best in the NBA Will Cost the Nets - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Brooklyn Nets GM intent on bringing back Brook - John Torenli - Brooklyn Eagle
- The King Of All Spin — Nets’ General Manager Defends His Plan - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN
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